Florence Blumenthal

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Florence Blumenthal (Meyer)

Also Known As: "Florie"
Birthdate: (57)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Death: September 21, 1930 (57)
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France (bronchial pneumonia)
Place of Burial: Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Marc Eugene Meyer and Harriet Meyer
Wife of George Blumenthal
Mother of George Blumenthal, Jr.
Sister of Rosalie M Stern; Eugene Isaac Meyer, Jr.; Ruth Bertha Cook; Aline Meyer; Walter E Meyer and 3 others

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About Florence Blumenthal

An extraordinary philanthropist and arts patron, Florence Meyer Blumenthal organized her own arts foundation in Paris, and donated millions of dollars to established institutions and public charities in America and France. Both a street as well as a public square in Paris are named in her honor.

Born in Los Angeles in 1875 was the third of eight children of Eugene Meyer, dry goods merchant from Strasbourg, France and Harriet Meyer (née Newmark), daughter of Joseph Newmark, who founded New York’s Elm Street Synagogue. Her older sisters Rosalie and Elise joined San Francisco’s Jewish elite and married Sigmund and Abraham Stern, nephews of Levi Strauss. Her younger brother Eugene became the president and publisher of the Washington Post.

In 1898, at age twenty-three, she married international financier George Blumenthal. Many of her philanthropic efforts were made in conjunction with her husband. The couple had three homes: a Park Avenue apartment, a large house in Paris, and a villa in the South of France. In 1916, to display their growing art and furniture collection, they moved into a mansion at 50 East 70th Street that was designed to look like a fifteenth-century Italian villa. From 1911 to 1938, the Blumenthals gave three million dollars to Mount Sinai Hospital, one of New York’s prominent German Jewish institutions, including a sum allotted for a wing in memory of their only child, George, Jr., who died as a young boy.

Blumenthal’s generosity extended across the Atlantic as well. In 1919, she initiated her most ambitious charitable endeavor. She organized the American Foundation for French Art and Thought in Paris to discover young French artists, aid them financially, and in the process draw the United States and France closer together through art, thought, and literature. Juries of well-known artists, including Paul Signac and Aristide Maillol, awarded the prizes to fellow painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians. For the first few years of the foundation, each artist received six thousand francs a year for two years, but from 1926 until her death in 1930, Blumenthal increased the purse to ten thousand francs a year. From 1919 to 1954, nearly two hundred artists benefited from the foundation’s grants.

In 1925, when George Blumenthal retired, the couple made their house in Paris their primary residence. In 1926, they gave sixty thousand dollars to the Children’s Hospital in Paris; in 1928, one million dollars to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Several years later, George Blumenthal would leave their house on East 70th Street and all of its Roman, Gothic, and baroque art treasures to the Met as well. Their contributions to the Sorbonne in Paris, made over several years, exceeded $250,000. In 1929, the French government presented Blumenthal and her husband with the Legion of Honor in recognition of their altruism.

On September 21, 1930, at age fifty-five, Florence Meyer Blumenthal died of bronchial pneumonia at her home in Paris.

Source: Wikipedia, Jewish Women's Archive


Florence Meyer Blumenthal was an American philanthropist who founded the Fondation franco-américaine Florence Blumenthal (Franco-American Florence Blumenthal Foundation), which awarded the Prix Blumenthal from 1919-1954 to painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians — to promote Franco- American relations.

For their altruism, Florence Blumenthal and her husband George Blumenthal received the French Legion of Honor in 1929. Both a street as well as a public square in Paris are named in her honor.

Born in Los Angeles in 1875 was the third of eight children of Eugene Meyer, dry goods merchant from Strasbourg, France, and Harriet Newmark Meyer, daughter of Joseph Newmark, who founded New York’s Elm Street Synagogue. Blumenthal's younger brother Eugene Meyer Jr. was President and publisher of the Washington Post (and was the father of Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during Watergate). In 1898, Florence married international financier George Blumenthal. In 1919, she organized the La Fondation américaine Blumenthal pour la pensée et l’art français (American Foundation for French Art and Thought) in Paris to discover young French artists, aid them financially, and in the process draw the United States and France closer together through art, thought, and literature.

In 1925, Blumenthal moved to Paris with her husband, later donating to the Children’s Hospital in Paris the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Sorbonne in Paris. She and her husband received the French Legion of Honor in 1929, and Blumenthal died of bronchial pneumonia at her home in Paris on September 21, 1930, at age fifty-five.

Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham described her aunt, known within the family as Florie, as having a perfect figure and for "bringing home massive amounts of clothing from Paris." Blumenthal was also related to the Levi Strauss family through her older sisters, Rosalie and Elise, each of whom had married a nephew of Strauss'.

The Blumenthals summered in France or on yachts in the Mediterranean and were noted for their residences, Knollwood Club in the Adirondacks, their mansion in New York (half a city block and had an indoor tiled swimming pool) as well as their mansion in Paris, for which an entire wing was built to house a new organ.

In 1907, she and her husband were injured in an automobile accident in Paris, where George Blumenthal received a bad cut on his face. The Blumenthals had one son, who died at an early age.

Blumenthal died on September 21, 1930, at age fifty-five, of bronchial pneumonia at home in Paris.

In 2010 (May 14-June 5), the Médiathèque of Haguenau hosted an exhibit of the Florence Blumenthal archives.

Recognizing the quality of care provided to their son by Professor Le Mee at the Necker Children's Hospital in Paris, the Blumenthals make a significant donation for the construction of a new building, the Blumenthal Pavilion, built in 1926 as an innovative Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) center operating around the clock, similar to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The Prix Blumenthal (or Blumenthal Prize) was a grant or stipend awarded through the Fondation franco-américaine Florence Blumenthal (Franco-American Florence Blumenthal Foundation), which Florence Blumenthal had founded. Grants were given from 1919-1954 to painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians.

Juries including Paul Signac and Aristide Maillol, awarded a Prix Blumenthal purse of six thousand francs per year for two years. This was increased from 1926 until her death in 1930 to ten thousand francs a year.

From 1919 to 1954 nearly two hundred artists received grants, including in 1921 Georges Migot (1891–1976), composer, painter, and a carver; in 1926 Paul Belmondo, sculptor; also in 1926 Paule Marrot, textile artist; in 1930 Robert Couturier, sculptor; in 1934 Jean Oberlé, painter and in 1941 Jean Follain, author and poet. As an example of the impact of the Prix Blumenthal, textile artist Paule Marrot received the stipend in 1928, which allowed Marrot to open her workshop in Batignolles on rue Truffaut — where she became widely known for furniture textiles. Marrot went on to experience strong popularity and commercial success in the U.S. after World War II, made a strong impact at Renault in pioneering the company's textile and color division, and redefined furnishing fabrics in France. In 1952 Marrot won in 1952, the French Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honor), (Chevalier) — and her textiles continue under license to diverse companies including Nike, Anthropologie and the handbag maker, Hayden-Harnett.

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Florence Blumenthal's Timeline

1873
May 29, 1873
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
1930
September 21, 1930
Age 57
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
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Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France